Some readers might be surprised to learn that I regularly wear trainers. Few should be surprised that there is a rationality both aesthetically and functionally to the selection.

My brand is Common Projects. I was introduced to the team there a few years ago, and invested in them based on learning about the construction. My experience since then has pretty much backed up that decision.

There isn’t much to making trainers. The soles can be glued or stitched on, but most high-end ones will be stitched. There are small differences internally as to how both methods can be performed, but they are small and they’re hard to verify without ripping the things apart.

After that it’s about quality of materials. Good quality leather (and leather linings) will make the shoes more comfortable and, perhaps more importantly, look better as they wear. That was the biggest attraction with Common Projects, and it has been backed up by experience. The only small caveat is around the linings around the heel, which have worn more than expected.
 Common-Projects-low-Achilles-sneaker Common-Projects-low-Achilles

Aesthetically, I generally prefer neutral, versatile colours – and with sneakers that means white. There are then two pairs of the Achilles style with very different functions. The cream pair are worn to death: with denim or chinos, to do anything including playing football with my kids. The white pair are kept pristine: worn occasionally, stored with shoe trees, and wiped down (with baby wipes) after most wears. Similar behaviour to dress shoes, therefore, if only otherwise found in trainer obsessives.

The white pair are worn as an accessory to preppy outfits, such as beige chinos, blue button-down and charcoal shawl-collar cardigan. Every now and again they are also used to subvert otherwise formal clothing, such as cream linen trousers or cotton suits. I’ll post pictures at some point this summer.

Common Projects are expensive – £260 in this case. But the aesthetic can be replicated with any type of sneaker. Stylish women do this particularly well, wearing a navy flannel suit with a white shirt and box-fresh white Converse, for example.

There is also a good number of trainers being made by small Italian companies as the area gets more popular. It’s worth looking at Diemme, for example, as a sportier alternative, and Buttero makes a rougher, stripped down model, with cut edges and no lining. Just don’t buy trainers from big fashion brands. They have the biggest margins of anything they sell (aside from sunglasses).


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Simon – any tips /products for cleaning the white versions? Mine get worn a bit so could do with a tidy up.


I think Saphir do something in cleaning products if I’m correct.

Jonas E

What are your thoughts on Adidas Stan Smith?


Hi Simon,
Interesting to read your post about trainers! Indeed, these also belong to a good wardrobe. Mine are a Timberland edited edition bought years ago. Sole glued, but the entire rest is leather, and thus very comfortable.
By the way, your travel outfit is indeed very inspiring as you have noticed!


Simon, was thinking about your last comment about the sunglasses. Does that mean it is worth buying sunglasses from the big fashion brands? Thank you.


Rapidly drifting off topic, I know, but perhaps sunglasses may be an interesting future topic for a post?

What would you consider “Permanent(ly?) Stylish” sunglasses? I’m a fan of my Persol’s, which I think are a stylish but not outlandish choice (tortoise shell, brown lenses) featuring some lovely details and made in acetate. They fit well with my wardrobe.

But Persol are, of course (ultimately) made/owned by Luxottica, who also make/own not only Ray-ban and Oliver Peoples and Oakley , but also make sunglasses for virtually every fashion house. If we are to avoid Luxottica glasses, where do you recommend we look (indeed, where are your own sunglasses from)?

Many thanks, both in anticipation of your reply and for your wonderful blog


Warby parker are a very good example of a brand that show why Luxottica is so awful. Much higher quality than most other glasses (not thant c&g) with good polarised lenses, but only $100 a pair. Simon next time youre in NY I really recommend checking them out. made in china but good quality and a fair price.


what do you think of black trainers? Yay or nay? Pretty versatile?


Hi Simon, what do you think about darker colored trainers, like navy or black? And do you wear socks with your trainers?


Hi Simon,

Sneakers made by Imai Hikori could also be an option, beautiful patina

Jonas E

I understand your point, but wouldn’t Stan Smith be ok with chinos or jeans? Also, I wonder what kind of sock do you recommend for sneaker use?

I find your blog really informative and I especially appreciate these casual posts because that is way I dress most of the time.


Very interested that you use shoe trees on the “pristine” pair. Is the main purpose moisture absorption or does it actually help keep the shape? I’ve often wondered if it’s something I should do with my Common Projects…


I’ve weaned myself off trainers/sneakers over the last few years and wear a variety of walking shoes with rubber soles when dressing casually. My favourite that go well with denim or chinos are Edward Green Dundees in country calf.


Have you heard of Feit? I think they deserve an entry into the trainer discussion.

Also, on the lower end of the scale, Springcourt make a nice canvas trainer that’s slim enough to be worn with formal trousers.

And finally, I recommend the Converse ’70s as a go-to Converse style. They’re slightly more expensive, but fix all the fit issues of the standard issue Converses.

Harry Morton

Hi Simon,
will be very interested to see some pics of how you work the white pair into tailoring. i work in a creative industry and want to try and subvert my otherwise classic tastes by dressing down with things like trainers, choice of cloth, polos and perhaps even t-shirts and hats. very much a work in progress; in my experiments so far this has been hard to pull off, so would be keen to look at how you have done it.
thanks as ever,


Great article and good that you are merging casual and formal wear, something the more stylish Italian’s (at Pitti for example) have been doing for some time. Not suggesting that Superga are anywhere in the same build league as Common Projects but both the popular 2750 (and the 1705) work well in neutral tones and I think the white leather 2750 looks especially good paired with Incotex chinos (with a slight bit of ankle visible, not too much though!!) and a short sleeved Smedley cotton knit for a nice simple summer look. I agree with your comments on adidas, they need to be the narrow designs, gazelle originals (OG not version II, which are wider) for example, again in neutral colors. In sneakerhead language they must be box fresh; you can also purchase various specialist sneaker cleaning products and I personally spray mine with a leather/suede protector which helps keep of potentially stubborn marks. Additionally John Lobb (the LVMH owned one) makes a sneaker called Winner, not sure if you have any experience of that?

Allen Fletcher

Simon what socks would you wear with the trainers? I hate sports socks!


Hey, what are your thoughts on Acne Adrian? They look well built and stylish but how about when they age since its patent leather. I just ordered a pair and worried that they may crack.


i own a pair of the cp achilles and they are nice casual shoes. I remember the price launch was near 250$ but then they become popular and unfortunately they raised the prices. The adrian are quite similar to the achilles both in aesthetic and quality.



Nice comparison. Did the two pairs receive the same amount of wear at the time the pic was taken?
They look pretty different and was wondering if the shoe tree and cleaning only could make that big difference.
I believe one pair has been worn more often than the other.


Hi Simon, would you mind to tell me which trees you are using in your CP shoes? I also would like to use trees, but in my opinion trees from Alden for example, which I own, are to high for the flat CP’s (especially in the front). What do you think? Thanks and best regards, Marc

Alex Gerrard

Hi Simon
How have you found the fit of CP Achilles? I have read elsewhere that they are both large and small, at the same time, which makes no sense to me. Mr Porter is usually an accurate guide and they suggest size to fit. Sadly trying them on is not an option for me in the near future, so I’d be diving in at £270 a pair it’s quite an expensive gamble.

I love the Golden Goose Deluxe Brand range, they look a little like pre-beaten-up Converse, but go against almost all of your rules! Available from Mr Porter, also.

Many thanks, Alex


Hi Alex

I have a pair of CPs and think I understand the “both large and small” comment, as unhelpful as it is.

I’m usually a UK 9 but found that whilst the length of the shoe was good it was very tight around the widest part of my foot (which is fairly broad). The UK 10 is comfortable around the width but a shade long. A half size would probably be perfect but they don’t make them and so I opted for the UK 10. I’ve learned the hard/expensive way that when any item of clothing feels a little tight I tend to put it to the back of the wardrobe. And, as Simon said, I can stop my foot slipping in the shoe by tightening up the laces a little bit. Hope that helps!


Simon, Mansy

Thanks for your comments.

I took the plunge, getting my usual size 10 instead of going down a size. I’m so glad that you both took the time to respond, as going down a size would have been an error.

heres hoping they go well for me, once I get over the paranoia of getting the first mark on them!!!



Any input on breaking in your CP’s? I have a new pair of Achilles that are taking some time to break in. Throught the foot they’re a little tight, but my big issue is the heel. They tend to tear up my heel, requiring thick socks or band aids to reduce friction. Curious if this is typical in breaking them in, or this is just an issue with my feet.


Hi Simon,

Sorry to be a bore but can you confirm the colour label for the cream pair? I can’t seem to find cream as a colour designation for these trainers. Also, did you opt for the original or low Achilles?

Is the cream designation actually “off white”?




I am considering buying a pair of white Common Projects sneakers. I read that you use baby wipes for daily maintenance, but do you recommend using white Saphir shoe polish from time to time? And do you then polish them as ordinary leather shoes with brushes etc?

Patrick Cheung

Hi Simon,

I’ve also read your blog about How To Wear Trainers- one thing that was consistent was that you advised to always to get slim sneakers with tailoring like your CPs.

At the moment, the CPs are out of my price range but am looking for an alternative. I also have a hard time judging whether a sneaker is deemed wide like Stan Smith or slim like the CPs.

I’ve found this alternative-
Would you be able to help and let me know if you think these are wide or slim like CPs?

Thanks Simon.


Hi Simon. If you haven’t already I’d recommend having a look at the French brand Zespa, in particular the ZSP4 shoe.


Am I mistaking you when I assume that there is a difference in original color between the ‘cream’ and all white pair? The cream color only comes from the wear and tear on the shoes, correct?

Hi Simon,

For the shoe tree, do you size 1 down as well?


For example. Shoe size 41, my foot size 42. I should get shoe tree size 42?

Brian G.

Simon, slightly off-topic question, but CP related, do you have any info (3rd part or otherwise) on CP Track Runner Sneakers? Needing again a new pair of running shoes and was wondering if these are worth a try? I’m in my upper 60’s and far from my years of 100-mile weeks. If I can do 5 miles a day, 5 or 6 days a week, I’m happy. 6 feet tall, 160 lbs. Thanks for any input.


Hi Simon,

How have these held up so far? Quality wise, can you get a few years of once-twice-a-week wear out of these shoes? How do they compare to dress shoes in the same price range, say Loake?



I bought a pair of “original achilles low” in all white this afternoon, they seem perfect for the warmer months, very versatile…however…

There is some damage to the inside of one of the shoes, it looks as though a piece of leather hasn’t been stitched

Really disappointing as I want to get on with breaking them in, in time for a weekend away next week

I am simply planning on swapping them for a fresh pair as I like them, and they fit well, but I wonder if you had heard of any issues with the making of common projects?

Have they got too popular and quality decreased?

I have taken a picture if you wanted to see it


Simon, I think I remember seeing pictures in which you’re wearing white sneakers and a jacket. For the life of me I can’t seem to make this work even though my sneakers are quite slim and I keep the rest casual (t-shirt and chinos). Reminds me of those guys wearing black suits with Nikes. Can you just confirm you’ve pulled this off successfully?


Hey Simon. Curious how often and for how long were the off white pair worn when the pictures were taken?


Sweet. Thanks. Wow, those look really beaten up.

My Beckett Simonons likewise developed deepl although less attractive creases and color chipping after about 2-3 years of regular wear (probably over 100). I think you’re right that white leather sneakers just don’t look good when they’re beaten up(unless you’re going for that).


Simon – What is the meaning for the number on the shoe?

I saw many version from different website, even that one is not same as yours


Thanks for the reply, I hope it is not refer to the last

By the way i saw some website named “Original Achilles Low”, i wondering what is the difference…

Anyway, already out of the topic


Hi Simon,
Recently bought a pair of CP Achilles Low in Black, and because I tend to wear down the in-step of heels very fast, I was wondering if you had any experience of placing plastic taps on the heel to prolong the life of the sole. Though, so far they are holding up, and it seems as if the sole is of good quality.


Hi Simon,

So two years later I return to this forum. I actually did end up placing plastic taps on the heel of my CP Achilles low and they did prolong the life of the sole and prevented the her drag. The shoes are still holding up well!


Knowing what you know and have experienced, do you think the c.qp is better?

Calvin Law

Dear Simon, how do you compare the c.qp racket low top white sneaker with the common projects in terms of last, narrow shape as you mention in article and finishing? Thinking of getting either one and would like some help in deciding. Thanks


My impression is that the look of the CPs has become a little ubiquitous/stale over the last years. Do you still wear and enjoy them? And do you have any recommendations for alternative styles that go well with a classic yet casual home office wardrobe? I have realized that I have left my CPs untouched for a while, mostly just slipping into some retro running style Nikes whenever I can’t bother to dress decently (i.e., 90% of the last year).



I’ve been looking for a good pair of trainers for quite some time now. Ideally, the trainers would go well with proper trousers, similar to outfit number 2 in this post

I like the idea of common projects: superior quality with a touch of formality. My problem is the size, in particular the width of the shoes. In the outfit I referenced above, I can’t help but feel like the shoes look wildly out of place, and I think it’s this is attributed to the amount of material and subsequent size of the shoe. This seems to be reflected in the fact that your trousers don’t seem to sit cleanly atop the trainers. This can be compared to other posts where you’ve worn shoes with seemingly less material (espadrilles, converse, Doek) and they seemed to look more appropriate.

Do you think a shoe like the Doek Oxford would have worked better with this outfit, given the considerable difference in width between the CP and Doek? Alternatively, do you think CQP has a thinner-looking shoe than the CP?

Please share your thoughts on the matter



It is certainly challenging, I wonder how this outfit would have looked with a pair of canvas sneakers (Doek or even Superga) or something like a german army trainer, which does have contrast but seems to have a good thin shape.

Do you think the CP is as slim as the Doek? I don’t know the dimensions, but in terms of appearance, the CP looks considerably wider. This may be due to the fact that it simply has more material?

I often think that the CQP Racquet, although very similar to the CP, looks just a bit thinner and sleeker than the CP. If you look at the image below, Atelier Saman Amel had a similar outfit to yours but paired it with CQP racquet, and it seems to look a little more fitting. What do you think?

comment image


What is your opinion on ‘dark brown sneakers’ with a casual outfit like t shirt and chinos?


In my opinion off white would look worn in from start unlike white which would draw many eye balls.
I have a couple of doubt regarding sneakers and it would be great if you could help
1)Do you suggest going for ‘white’ or ‘off white’ for first pair of sneakers?
2) With an all dark outfit for example navy shirt with charcoal chinos, would white sneakers look good or would it draw the eyes to the feet?
3) Most of my darker colour shirts like navy or olive have white buttons which makes it a but casual. Would wearing white sneakers with it be too matchy or is it fine?


Thank you for the suggestions.
Do white buttons look good with dark color shirts or should one stick to darker colors?


Speaking of „ripping the things apart“: apparently not everyone is convinced of the quality of the Common Projects sneakers.
This is annoying because I like the style.


Any experience with Artisan Lab as an alternative?


The „Koio – Capri“ is also said to be a good alternative with basically the same quality level as CP.


In the end I still went with the CP. Because I got them on discount and design-wise nothing else is quite the same (for me).

Erik P

I have good experience with the JAK brand from Portugal, I own several and they seem to be as well made as any. Most of them in the style ”royal” which is similar to your trainers, Simon. JAK is a little less expensive than Common Projects, usually cost less than 200€.


Are you still wearing common projects today?
My own common projects sneakers are a couple of years old and need to be replaced. Do you recommend another brand today that I should look at? Many thanks.


Appreciate that this article is fairly old, but I think anyone considering CPs might be interested in this video:


Hello, Simon!

I hope I find you well.

Can you recommend me another sneakers brand but a little bit on the budget side that will still serve good and last long?

Best regards

Simon G.

Hello, Anonymous (and other readers), I thought I’d jump in here. I recently bought a pair of Common Projects low Achilles. I got them used, truly hardly worn. The person bought them online and they didn’t fit. Luckily, I had tried on some in the past in a store so I knew my size. Not much help on your original question but a look around the very lightly used market may prove promising if you’re like me and on a budget. Helps to know your size ahead of time.